What is a Holographic Will and is it a Legitimate Will?


By Jed McKeehan

You may have never heard of the term, “holographic will.”  What does it mean?  A holographic will is a will that is handwritten and signed by the person making the will.

Some states do not recognize holographic wills as valid wills and they are definitely not preferred as they are usually considered to be less professional and do not cover all of the bases that a professionally done will does.

Holographic wills are legal in Tennessee.  That means that if someone handwrites out their will, that will is an actual, valid will that can be probated.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 32-1-105 deals specifically with holographic wills.  It states, “No witness to a holographic will is necessary, but the signature and all its material provisions must be in the handwriting of the testator and the testator’s handwriting must be proved by two (2) witnesses.”

What does that mean?  That means that the entire will must be handwritten by the person making the will and after the person dies, their handwriting must be confirmed by two witnesses.

So, can you write out your own will in Tennessee.  Yes, you can.  While I do not recommend it, it can be done.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.


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